Unleashing Social Value: Leicester Community Radio’s Empowering Journey
On the 17th of May, 2023, an exciting event unfolded in the heart of Leicester. None other than the Duke of Edinburgh graced the city with his presence. But what was his primary motive? He set out to gain first-hand experience of the remarkable work done by Leicester Community Radio (LCR). The Duke was particularly intrigued by LCR’s efforts to engage with adults considered vulnerable or dealing with learning difficulties, a population the station actively seeks to uplift.
LCR has consistently demonstrated a commitment to inclusivity, fostering an environment where every voice has a chance to be heard. The station’s directors and volunteers showcased to the Duke how they have been working tirelessly to represent minority communities. These communities, often overlooked by other commercial or BBC stations in the region, have found a powerful ally in LCR.
The station’s impact extends beyond the airwaves. It is a force for positive change in the community, with a reach that permeates various strata of society. The Duke had the opportunity to witness this transformative influence during his visit. Several volunteers shared their experiences, describing the rewarding work they do at the station. The Duke watched as a group of vulnerable adults adeptly produced a short radio show, a testament to the skills they have honed at LCR, such as music selection, mixing, and curating radio programmes.
Theresa Hutchinson, a director at LCR and a professional dedicated to working with vulnerable adults, articulates the profound joy she experiences through her work. She notes, “Radio and Music have been fantastic tools for social transformation. It’s incredibly satisfying to see people who were once reluctant and shy, grow into confident individuals who can stand on stage before thousands of viewers”.
Des Belle, another LCR director and a local radio producer, shares his journey spanning over 30 years. As a black man born and raised in Leicester, his dream was to establish a radio platform that promotes equality. Leicester Community Radio, he believes, has made more strides in local equality than any other project.
Dr Rob Watson, a local community radio practitioner, acknowledges the long journey that LCR has embarked upon. He lauds the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit as a significant endorsement of their efforts. For LCR, which has struggled against policies of regulatory bodies like Ofcom and their predecessors for more than 40 years, the Duke’s visit is a powerful affirmation of their mission.
The Leicester Community Radio station’s journey is a heartening tale of resilience, inclusivity, and the power of community radio. The station proves that community radio is not just an activity, but a potent catalyst for social change and value. It is a platform that encourages participation and champions the voices of those who are often left unheard. The social gain that arises from such initiatives is immeasurable and can truly transform communities.